[ d e e p P u r . p l e ) The Highway Star

Deep Purple take Saratoga Springs

Since Deep Purple wasn't coming to Montreal this time around, we decided to make the 3 1/2 hour trek south to Saratoga Springs. I was surprised to see the bill for this show but after having read the reviews on The Highway Star I felt somewhat relieved. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against southern rock but on the other hand I have nothing for it either. The drive south would have been pretty boring except for the fact that my 14 yr old nephew brought along his Purple CDs (thanks Teo). My travelling companions and I stopped in Anytown, USA hoping to pick up some liquid refreshment to consume on arrival, but, to our amazement, you cannot by beer on Sundays in New York state??? Oh well, so much for that. I took this as a bad sign but nonetheless we forged on despite greying skies.

We arrived in Saratoga Springs at around 5.30 and managed to get into the parking lot by 6. The parking (a big field with lots of mud) looked like a casting call for "Deliverance." The only things missing were the toothless banjo player and his trusty bloodhound! Not to be deterred, we waded through what was clearly a Nugent/Lynyrd Skynyrd crowd toward the Performing Arts Centre. The SPAC is truly a nice looking outdoor venue. There are about 100 or so rows of seating in a semi circle around the stage, followed by a lawn and a second tier of seats about 50 feet up in the air. The opening act was some guy on an acoustic guitar playing who knows what. Prime opportunity to check out the sites (beer tent). Buying beer was more complicated than buying a house. I turned 36 yesterday and got carded!! Guess there are a lot of 36-year-old looking teens in Saratoga Springs!! Back to the show.

Ted Nugent took the stage around 7 or so. Again another opportunity to see the sites (souvenir stand). Found a really nice Deep Purple pin for 8 bucks (which is about 100 dollars Canadian but who's counting?) Once again, back to the show.

Deep Purple took to the stage at 8 o'clock. We were sitting about 18th row or so and had a good view. I was surprised to see them open with "Woman From Tokyo" but it was really cool. The seats had filled nicely and the sun was setting. The sound was great for the first three or four songs but I think someone played with the settings because it got slightly muddled thereafter. Still acceptable though. I really enjoyed the set although abbreviated, especially "Knocking At Your Back Door" which brought back memories of my first DP show ("Perfect Strangers" tour). The band was tight and as usual they all seemed to be in good spirits. The Steve Morse medley which included snippets of Led Zep, Rush (wow), The Who and others was great fun and well appreciated by the crowd. Before I knew it the last strains of "Highway Star" echoed in the darkness and the members of DP thanked their faithful and left the stage.

We were very fortunate to have met Roger, Ian G. and Steve after the show. Many thanks to BP and CL for sorting us out. They were all as kind as ever and talked to everyone for the better part of an hour. I must say that Ian G. is looking extremely fit as others have mentioned. After a few more pictures and fond farewells we piled back into the car and headed up north, content at having seen the band yet one more time. No time for Lynyrd Skynyrd, we had already seen the best rock'n'roll band in the world.

PS To my fellow fan from Montreal who also posted a review, I too saw Gillan freaking get upset at one point. I think it was with the sound rather than the lights.

To the two fat LS fans who kept getting up and leaving their seats to drink or go for a leak? I hope someone returned the favour during the Skynyrd set you fat ugly %$&!*.

Finally to the cool people we met backstage from Saratoga Springs, thanks for the hospitality and all the best.

D. Nichols

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